Travel Feed

That shopping day

I was really looking forward to the shopping day with my Quilting Group, Star Sea Quilters, and it didn't disappoint.  Sometimes lady luck picks you out and says

"you need a break, here is a blessing to cheer you up."

That has been this quilting group.  The more I talk to the members the more I realise what a remarkable group of women I have joined up with.

Hiring a bus for the trip was inspired.  That traffic down on the Gold Coast is a nightmare and there I sat in a comfortable bus being driven to and from all the place I wanted to go to.  That was win No1.  Number two was the company of great people, so good.  Then there was the shopping.

We started at Fi Fi's.  Never been there?  It is well worth the visit.  The shop is arranged differently from other Quilting Shops.  Most organise their stock by colour, this shop is organised by designers, and she keeps the full range of those designers who are purchased.  (Natalie Bird who is a member of our group is featured here as well.)

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The only problem is making a decision about what to buy.  I bought a new pair of scissors, that fit my hand that doesn't work properly,and some fabric to use in my charity quilts for kids and teenagers and

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some to make some pillows for my grand daughter.  ( I bought a bit more than I intended but...)

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Then onto Japanashe.  They manufacture futons and when they cut the fabric there are all these off cuts.  $100 work will be enough to make a King sized quilt , maybe 2!

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They have a great range of Japanese fabrics and

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so I had to have some of those.

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And they also had Japanese Antiques.  (One of our members is still an antiques dealer so she checked everything out for us.)  I also found a lovely little tea pot for my daughter.

Then we were all dropped of in Burleigh Heads to find a place to eat, this saw us spread out in all directions.  My little group of friends from the island headed to the Surf Life Saving Club.  These clubs are located along the coast of Queensland and all are right on the beach and serve great food. This was our view whilst we ate.

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Personally I think it is a bit cold for swimming, 24 degrees C.

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Then a bit of retail therapy in the shops at Burleigh where I found a dress from my daughter.  (I hope she likes it?)   Back on the bus and then home.  It was a long day.  I caught the 7am ferry to the mainland and the 5.30pm ferry back to the island.

I now have so many projects planned for all that fabric!

Back Home

Well I'm home again after my little trip to the country where I have been judging at some country shows.  I do love doing this.  You meet the nicest people and get to see some wonderful work.  The weather was considerably cooler, and that was very pleasant.  It was cool enough to have a quilt on the bed at night.  I also get to look in shops that are new to me.  I saw a lovely writting desk that I would like for the townhouse.  My son won't like it, (he lives there) but it would be great in my bedroom.  The town house is modern and Guy often works from home so he has the living area set up to take all his computers, so it wouldn't fit there at all.  It would be an indulgence for me as it is an antique and not that cheap.  (I'm trying to talk myself into this.)  I didn't buy it but if it is still there next time I go up I will.

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The other thing I like to do is the op-shops.  Only Vinnies this time but I still managed a good haul. One thing was this lovely doll for my grand daughter.  Cost $4.00.

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And this mat that I will unpick for the embroidery to repurpose.  I have a machine finishing class soon and this will make a good demonstration piece.

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See the price? 50cents!!  You couldn't buy the buttons for that.

(I bought lots more which I will keep for later.)

A town with a name like a song.

The experiments with the needle keepers continues and I got to wondering just what the cotton threads I had bought in South America would look like stitched into these Japanese patterns. 

I bought these in the town of Chichicastanago.  (I see there are several songs of the same name.)  I was blown away by the colour and the whole atmostphere of the town.  These same markets have been held for 100's of years before the Spanish arrived.

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There were threads up to the ceiling and beyond and the colours were just so vibrant.  The shop was on the balcony level of the market with the downstairs being for fruit and vegetables.  The markets are held two days a week and the women come in to buy their threads for weaving.


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It wasn't until I got to Solola that I realised that the threads in this shop were for weaving, not embroidery.  Everyone was dressed in their best even the shop vendors.  The colours and bling made the heart sing.

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So, thinking I could use these threads for embroidery I bought up big, knowing that I may never pass this way again.  I bought a hank of every colour that was available.


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It wasn't until I got home that I realised that the thread was too fine and unmercerized.    But now that I am using a linen base for my stitching my thoughts returned to these threads.  I decided to use 4 strands and got stitching.

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The thread is beautiful.  I am in fact stitching 'needle weaving' and weaving is what it is made for.  I prepared the thread they same way I would prepare a sashiko thread, cutting the hank and plating it.  Worked like a charm.

I have ordered more little bowls as I now have a huge stock of threads.  The bowls themselves are not expensive, but, the freight is.  I will use them for classes and for gifts, they are quick and easy to stitch.  And I was asked by a friend if the lid lifts off for storage of pins below?  It is now, that is a great idea.  This has led to some changes in how I am preparing the bowls.  They come as raw wood and I have been spraying them with a clear varnish.

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I will now spray the inside of the bowls as well so that the pins slide out easily and I will have to look at the finish of the embroidery under the lid.  Maybe a lining?

The next thread I want to experiment with is this one which is resist dyed.

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You would see the men (not the women) wrapping the thread ready for dying.  This was done on a frame and there seemed to be a method in just where the ties were applied.  I think this was done for a form of Ikat weaving.  The ties were not random but they were terrible to get off.

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And what a tangle from the dye vat!! I managed to stab my finger with the scissors tying to do this.  I'm sure they had a method behind all these processes but, as my Spanish is so rudimentary and most of the Mayans speak their own indigenous language and Spanish as a second language, it is all a  mystery to me.

Watch this space.


Big Weekend

I have had a big weekend.  Big in the sense that I had a lot to do and big in the amount of ideas and inspiration I experienced.  Where to start?  Firstly, the first "Embroidery Convention" was held at the Convention Centre in Brisbane this past weekend.  I saw and experienced so much that I will have to break the writting about this over a number of days.

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I attended to demonstrate Kogin Embroidery for the Embroiderers' Guild.  I was so busy that I forgot to take photos of a display of my work.  It was just full on talking to people.  It wasn't a huge convention but it was all about embroidery and textiles.  There were quite a number of traders exhibiting as well, and they were also super busy. 

Having been ill for the past 2 years I have lost touch with the social side of embroidery and textiles.  At this show I ran into so many people that I haven't seen during this time and it made me realise how much I have missed and how things have moved on.  I am seriously behind the 8 ball.  And another thing I had to acknowledge is that I am still not completely recovered.  Yes, I can walk again and think straight but the fatigue sets in after about 5 or 6 hours.  I am not my old self that could work two jobs and just power on.  I have also fallen behind with what is going on in the embroidery world. I was once good at picking trends and where the market was going.  This past two years has put me right out of all that.  I have to do some serious research to catch up.

One of the traders at the show was Kathy Doughty.  Kathy is a quilter who owns and runs a shop in Sydney called Material Obsession and she is an innovator in the textile world.  Now I see she has embraced embroidery as well.  She also writes a great blog which has been down for a while because she has been travelling and teaching in the USA, but is now back online.  (There are lots of interesting links on her last post.)

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Embroidery, on her stand was labelled "the new vintage", it also features on her web page.

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I bought her new book "Organic Applique" which looks interesting although I have only flipped through it.  I have all her other books in my library and if they are anything to go by this should be good.  I see the title also states "creative hand stitching ideas and techniques", lots to discover here.

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Looking back at the traders displays I see a number had the French General sampler prints I wrote about and they were walking out of the shops.  Every one I spoke to agreed that the quality of the linen was good.  Charlie agreed.  I had some trouble getting my piece back from her!

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18 years ago

Doesn't time fly?  Eighteen years ago I had a lump removed from my breast.  It was only early stages and after it's removal I had some ray treatment and I have been free of the disease since then.  At the same time as I was worried sick about what might happen my husband was preparing for the world master's games as a competitor in rowing.  To cut a long story short, I went with him for the competition, all bandaged up and waiting for the pathology results to come through.

We drove down to Ballarat in Victoria from Queensland taking the inland route through the dry interior.  It was so cold after Queensland's heat.  It was cold because the morning temperatures were below 0 degrees celcius!  The ice had to be removed from the car's windscreen and then we sat at the edge of the lake and watched old men (and women), well most were over 45, compete.  My husband came home with a swag of medals which he promptly put in the bottom draw. (He is on the left.)

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But in the mean time I was bored out of my wits!  You can see in this shot he was chuffed and I was cold!

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After the first day I set out to explore the shops, embroidery and patchwork mainly.  By the next day I had a car  full of other competitors wives who were also bored witless.  We found some really pretty towns in the area which were all founded during the gold rushes of the 1850's.  (These shots are pre-digital cameras.  I can't remember when that was.)

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And I remember that I was going to restitch this sampler from the 1840's.  Didn't do that either. (Love the lavender behind the frame.)

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I found some great shops and bought up lots of supplies.  At one shop I bought the prettiest patchwork fabric that was cut into squares.  (This was prior to precuts.)  I brought it home and looked at it, and petted it, but could never work out what I would do with it.  Fast forward 18 years.  I pulled it out the other day and have sewn all those square into rows.  It was the designs on the fabrics I liked so why cut it up?

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I don't know if this is wise, but, I have decided to embroider all the seams.  It would be too difficult to lug it around if I sewed all the fabric together so I have just started with rows.  The embroidery is going to be in shades of blue in all different weights and I am starting with Wheat stitch.  This is not going to be a fast job so it will go into the WIPW catagory.  (Pulling that bundle out of the draw hasn't made any more space.  Oh well.)

Loose ends

Some pictures of temple bells from Thailand that inspired me to buy the bell for the front door.

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I bought my daughter some ceramic fish when I was in Guatemala.  When I was last at the town house I saw one of the tails was broken so it came home with me to be repaired and I think they will stay here.

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Coming home we sailed through this beautiful rainbow.  It is a bit deep at this point in the bay so that treasure is buried deep.

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And I have finished the last needlebook so that has got the desk cleared.

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I bought a temple bell whilst I was in Thailand .  We were visiting a Buddist temple in Chang Mai and this day was a public holiday so was super busy.  There were all kinds of things for sale around the temple and these bells were for people to chime as the walked around the Budda.


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It has been sitting on the shelf for the want of something to hang it on and I finally found a bracket at Paddington Hardware. (They have things that no other hardware store have and the men, who are mostly retired,  know every piece of stock.)

Now it is my front door bell.

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Everytime it rings I will remember that visit

The fifth floor

On the 5th floor of Iconsiam was a section set aside for local crafts people.  They have a series of videos on facebook, with subtitles, that are great for explaining some of the work and the artisan involved.  The one I have linked to here looks at embroidery which to me is very much influenced by Boro stitching from Japan.  Variations on this kind of work was to be seen in other craft markets as well and was not cheap.  I looked at buying a dress that was $260 but I didn't have enough cash with me and they didn't have a credit card machine. 

These are some of the stitched bags I saw.  I am looking at this is as a future class, maybe.

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What I did buy from this floor were two small weaving frames for my grand-daughters.

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The instructions are all in Thai, which isn't helpfull, but as they are simple looms I bought them anyway.  I had seen lots of children working at looms when we visited the hill tribes, so I thought they would make a good craft activity for our Monday afternoons.

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I thought I had better give it a try first and quickly came to the conclusion that I had better put this away until they are a little older. I had forgotten how you have to watch the edges, beat down the thread continually and lots of other little tricks.

(This is a mat for the dolls house.)

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This little frame is only about 5cm x 4cm and I used almost 2 reels of old tapestry wool to do this much.  I hate to think how much yarn I would need for the bigger frame.  The bigger frame would be easier to use but would take a lot longer to finish.  So I will pack them away for another day.

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A long absence

I can't say that I am fully recovered from all the viruses but my trip away has broken the terrible depression I was suffering.  I find on opening the computer up again that I will need to get onto Mr Apple to get my email working and lots of other small things.  It always amazes me that those 'small things' can take forever to fix.

So where do I start?  I think the shopping mall next to the hotel would be a great place.  I don't think I have ever seen a shopping mall that was so opulent yet still managed to retain a lot of the essence of Bangkok and Thai culture.  (if you are really interested there is a video on You Tube that runs for 25mins, all in Thai, that will show you what it is like.)

I found lots of interesting things in there.  On the ground floor was a floating food market, along with a traditional supermarket, that was very expensive.  

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I also found these embroidered straw bags.

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This is an interesting use of this type of embroidery.

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It was the portraits that really caught my eye.

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And on closer inspection it was definately all hand worked not machined.

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 I hadn't expected to see something like this in Thailand.  But then there was lots of things I saw that I wasn't expecting.

Last Day

We are travelling home this afternoon and I must say that after the constant go, go, go I will be pleased to get on the plane.  Not that I haven't enjoyed my time here but the constant pressure of people in your face all the time is just getting to me.

I had breakfast at the tea house in the block arcade.  Only eggs on toast and a cup of tea.  I left all those delicious cakes in the cabinet.

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Some people actually had cake for breakfast!

I now need to get home and process everything I have seen and done.